Estonian Reforms – What could Ukraine learn from them

Estonian Reforms – What could Ukraine learn from them ?

Erik Terk

Tallinn University, Institute of Political Science and Governance. Tallinn University, The Estonian Institute for Futures Studies

Сourse Description & Goals:

The analysis of other countries’ experience is often directly or indirectly helpful for policymakers in reaching conclusions and decisions important for their own country. This is possible, above all, if the  situations of the corresponding countries have certain common traits (the initial situation, external conditions, e.g. foreign policy background) and if the persons involved can view, besides individual reforms or solutions, the development dynamics of a country in general with its different stages with their own conditions and logic. Sometimes, although rather infrequently, it is possible to copy individual reforms more or less mechanically (direct adoption of best practices), yet these are mostly exceptions. It is much more realistic to presume that by learning the process of another country’s policy of reforms and development it is easier to understand the dilemmas and choices encountered by the decision-makers.

Knowledge of how another country solved some problems in its specific practical situation, which factors were considered and which were ignored, and what came out of it all, successfully or otherwise, could be very useful in solving similar problems in one’s own country. Of course, in case the similarity or dissimilarity of contexts can be determined.

The course begins with the general overview about Estonian reforms and developments during the past 25 years. The development process passed is observed not only from the viewpoint of economic transition but also by proceeding from the experience gathered from the study and comparison of so-called catching-up countries. The course studies, besides economic development, its political (domestic and foreign political) and social backgrounds.  Estonia’s development path is viewed by different stages with an attempt to highlight the basic problems, dilemmas and main reforms of every stage.

Then the course will provide a selection of Estonia’s history of reforms, analyses them, attempts to find parallels with Ukraine and tries to reach jointly conclusions about which aspects of Estonia’s experience could be used in Ukraine and how to do it. There are 6 cases in the “wish-list” to select for study: 1. Privatisation and corporate governance; 2. Geo-economic context of business  (EU and Russia) ; 3. Mechanisms for  goal-setting and  compromise 4. Problems with State-owned infrastructural companies; 5. Institutional side of innovation policy; 6. Perspectives approching remote markets (East Asia etc).    Besides individual spheres and reforms it is attempted to analyse Estonia’s and Ukraine’s general development and its dilemmas as a whole.

The objectives of the course are: to extent the participants’ horizons regarding the opportunities and specific solutions of economic reforms and development policy and to understand the general conditions of successful (economic) development.


The course is based on constant alternation between the presentation of illustrating material (Estonia’s experience), its discussion with the participants and discussion of the likelihood and conditions for using it in the Ukrainian conditions. The beginning of the course attempts to provide an overview of the overall logic of Estonia’s development and to analyse it with the participants. Then the participants will select out of six possible spheres of discussion (reform cases) 3 or 4 and the following lectures and discussions will remain within the limits of these subjects. Dependent on the subjects the discussion part will take place as a discussion with the general audience or alternatively the initial discussions will take place in smaller groups and the outcomes of the group work will be discussed with all audiences.

Materials (in English) on various aspects of Estonia’s reform and development experience will be distributed among the participants in advance.

Instruction Language:


Course Length and Structure:

Course III duration is one week and it is composed of four interactive sessions. Each session is three hours long with one fifteen minutes break in-between.

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